UK Football 2009/10 – Half Term Report

Millwall1                     Steve Morison hustles for the ball for Millwall 

So we’re pretty much a quarter of the way through the football season here in the UK and that seems as good a time as any to have a look at how things progressing across the divisions.

 

Following a thumping 5-0 win over a lacklustre Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, Millwall are heading back in the right direction.

Our inconsisent form has seen us yo-yo around mid table but hopefully we can push on from here and aim for the top six.

Sadly for Tranmere, tipped for the playoffs preseason, things aren’t improving and they remain in the bottom four.

At the top of League One it’s no surprise to see Leeds and Charlton filling the top two spots. I expect Leeds to take the title but Charlton will need to keep their star players fit otherwise they may struggle to maintain the pace.

The main surprise has been Swindon‘s impressive start and it will be interesting to see if they can keep on track throughout the season.

Ricky Lambert      Southampton goal machine Ricky Lambert – 7 goals for the season

At the bottom Southampton have taken a lot longer than we all thought to get out of minus points and along with Tranmere and Wycombe look to be falling away. I suspect the superb signing of Ricky Lambert will see the Saints march up the table though as the season goes on.

The Premier League has been up to it’s usual tricks – the top two look to remain unchanged but as strong as Man Utd have been, I still think Chelsea will take it this year. Their defence seems stronger and less likely to implode.

Tottenham and Man City currently occupy the other Champions League spots – I cannot see Spurs mantaining that however there is a real chance for Man City to break into the top four. Next season may see even more from City, as their defensive partnerships bond – Mark Hughes has made some very shrewd signings.

Joleon Lescott             Joleon Lescott: Will come good for City when settled in

It will be interesting to see what Liverpool and Arsenal can do in response to all this. I suspect Arsenal may take third place but they are often so inconsisent that you can never tell.

There is a real battle at the wrong end of the table and with Portsmouth getting a (first) win at the weekend even they are in with a shout of staying up. If I’m gonna stick my neck out and say one team I think will drop that would be Hull, who seem to have lost all confidence in manager Phil Brown.

In the Championship it’s again as you would expect with the ‘big three’ of Newcastle, West Brom and Middlesbrough filling the top three spots. All three of these teams will be up there at the end of the season. Newcastle’s super start will see them, in my opinion, take the title but second place is up for grabs.

Adam Johnson     Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson is in great form so far this season 

Lots of great individual performances in this first quarter – Kevin Nolan seems to be on fire for Newcastle, likewise Adam Johnson for Middlesbrough and the standard of the Championship this year is very high.

With lots of teams including Preston, Cardiff and Sheffield Utd also looking strong it makes for an interesting promotion race.

At the other end Reading are a big shock to see so close to the drop zone but it’s early days and they still have time to turn it around. Likewise with bottom of the lot Ipswich. Roy Keane is obviously under pressure but performances have improved and it’s only a matter of time before the positive results come – but will it be enough?

Down in League Two the season was almost overshadowed by the whole Sol Campbell affair at big spending Notts County. In my opinion, disillusioned or not, Campbell’s behaviour has been unacceptable.

County seem to still be going well but have stuttered of late – probably as all their new signings gel together.

AFC Bournemouth            AFC Bournemouth have raced to the top of League Two

No shock to me to see Bournemouth top – after all their recent point deductions I fancied them to have a good run on a level playing field – and Rotherham have also been strong so far.

Another of my tips, Dagenham and Redbridge have been flying and it’s nice to see Aldershot up and around the playoffs, hopefully both of them can maintain that form.

Barnet are also doing well and while Bradford have struggled here and there they will be around the playoffs come the end of the season.

At the bottom it’s as you would’ve thought really, with Grimsby putting up more of a fight than I expected so fair play to them. Darlington really are a long way (8pts) from safety and lots of other clubs could be dragged into the relegation battle.

 

There is still a long way to go and only a few teams are in a position that requires any sort of panic but a lot of people always say you can tell what kind of season you are going to have by where you are after 10 games.

From a personal point of view after the injuries we’ve had I’m happy to see Millwall in 10th – with a bit of luck and some more consistency we can hopefully push on and make the playoffs again this season.

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Tales Of The Unexpected (Millwall Edition)

Jimi

Well I can honestly say that I didn’t expect to be sitting here the morning after the 2nd leg of Millwall’s playoff semi-final against Leeds writing about an upcoming trip to Wembley! 😎

Making club history with our first EVER playoff win in the the first leg was one thing but Leeds would turn it around in the return leg at their ground wouldn’t they? That was the general opinion.

37,000 were expected to go to the game, with just 1,000 of them Millwall fans due to strict security.

We made it intact to halftime and then just after the break Leeds were awarded a penalty, their star striker Jermaine Beckford hit a weak shot which was easily saved by the Millwall keeper.

I remember thinking ‘I wonder if that’ll gee us up or spur Leeds on’? Didn’t have to wait long to find out… 1-0 to Leeds a few minutes later. So it was 1-1 on aggregate.

But being completely honest I gave up there and then – no way would we beat them now. The crowd would be behind them and the best we could do was weather the storm and try for penalties.

Only no-one told our players who promptly scored ten minutes from the end and, despite an astonishing amount of injury time, Millwall hung on for a famous victory.

So we are heading to Wembley for the final – what a day that promises to be, win or lose it will be great. We face the winner of MK Dons and Scunthorpe who play tonight.

In other football matters the Premiership is drawing to a close and it appears Man Utd have the title again, however it’s nice to see a different team (Liverpool) in 2nd place.

Next season should be interesting, especially with the possible improvement of Man City and Spurs. What will become of Arsenal? Can they challenge again? I don’t think they are as far away as everyone says but they definitely need a few signings to step back up.

BorovNewcastle

At the bottom West Brom and Boro are having the last rites read to them. The 3-1 defeat that lifted Newcastle out of the drop zone was a hammer blow to Boro but the Magpies seem to have grasped their chance of survival. Stranger things have happened though and it could all come to down to the last game as the results come in.

In the Championship it’s nice to see Wolves finally get up to the Premier again, and in Alex McLeish Birmingham have themselves a really good manager so it’ll be with interest that I watch the newly promoted clubs next year.

McLeish

I’d love to see Burnley win the playoffs just to have another different name up there in the top division.

With Charlton, Southampton and Norwich all dropping to League One it means next season in the third tier will be tougher than ever. Add to that Leeds, Tranmere and even newly promoted Brentford & Wycombe and you have the makings of a cracker of a league.

Let’s just hope Millwall’s name isn’t in there as well after the Playoff Final on May 24th 🙂

Crunch Time

henry-goal

Well it’s getting to crunch time in the football calendar where seasons can be made or broken – Easter weekend.

We have a double-header away to Yeovil (17th) on Saturday and then at home to Peterborough (2nd) on the Monday evening.

I suppose being 5 points behind Peterborough we need to get a win against them but with Leicester (who looked like taking the title for most of the season) having a stuttering run of late it’s given us Millwall fans hope that we still have a shot at a place in the top two.

league-table-april-7th-2009

Up in the Premiership and it’s certainly Man Utd‘s title to lose now, especially with a game in hand on Liverpool. I thought Aston Villa were unlucky to lose but that is the mark of champions.

man-u-goal

Not sure where Liverpool go from here if they don’t get the title? I think this was their best chance of the title for years and I wonder if they’ll be able to compete as closely again next season?

At the bottom there are a whole host of teams down there.

Will Shearer save Newcastle?

shearer1

Stranger things have happened but he’ll need to sharpen up his defence – they conceded two very sloppy goals to Chelsea at the weekend. I’m hoping Middlesbrough can get themselves out of trouble as the lad I share an office with is a fan of theirs.

Back to League One and I think we really need to pull off some big wins to get automatic promotion – starting with a victory at home to Peterborough… lose that and I suspect it’ll be the playoffs for us. 😦

We haven’t won a playoff match in our history so it doesn’t bode well if we end up in the lottery that is the playoffs.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that 🙂